Students Testify

Together we can provide meaningful investment and leverage state funds to inspire increased community giving.

In 2014, the Colorado legislature committed $34 million toward a new initiative to create a network of student support and scholarship programs throughout the state. By increasing student success and financial resources, the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative set out to create greater postsecondary access, persistence and retention for Coloradans. The work of Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative is pursuant to HB 14-1384 and SB 20-006.

COSI addresses statewide postsecondary attainment in two ways:

Accessibility (wrap-around support funding)

COSI funds programs that prepare students for postsecondary education and supports them through completion. 78% of program participants are students of color, and COSI Scholars persist at rates 15% points higher than peers of similar backgrounds.

Affordability (scholarship funding)

COSI provides tuition support to students via matching funds for community scholarships, helping to keep down tuition costs and reducing student loan debt. 64% of COSI scholars are students of color, and three-quarters are eligible for the Federal Pell Grant. These students outpace their non-COSI counterparts by 25%.  

What Legislators need to know about COSI:

Since its inception, COSI has awarded $66.5 million (leveraging $35 million in additional local and private dollars) to serve more than 100,000 students. The program operates in 61 Colorado counties and all public institutions of higher education. COSI students persist at significantly high rates (87-89%), helping Colorado reach 66% statewide attainment by 2025.

COSI was successful during the 2021 legislative session passing three bills:

  • Modify the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative (COSI) Advisory Board 

    • This bill proposal makes statutory changes to the composition of the COSI Advisory Board to include members of the Colorado Commission of Higher Education and students, alongside members of the Colorado Workforce Development Council. 

    • The bill was passed and signed by the governor. Find out more information here: http://leg.colorado.gov/bills/sb21-179.

  • $15 million appropriation for COSI’s Displaced Worker Program, SB 21-232

    • This bill makes a $15M appropriation to the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative (COSI) to the Displaced Workers Grant, per the Colorado Recovery Plan, Goal #5: Developing our workforce. The purpose of the grant is to provide scholarships and wraparound support to individuals that lost employment or had a significant reduction in hours due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant will allow them to finish their degree or reskill and upskill, and get back to work. The investment will also include infrastructure dollars to scale high-impact programs.

    • The bill was passed and signed by the governor. Find more information here: https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/sb21-232

  • $46.5 million appropriation for COSI's Finish What You Started Program, HB 21-1330

    • With the passage of HB21-1330, the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative (COSI) received $46.5 million to expand its Finish What You Started (FWYS) program. The funds will be allocated to public institutions of higher education to focus on providing indirect and direct support to undergraduate, in-state students who: 

      • Earned some postsecondary credits from a public/private higher education institution but did not complete a credential before deciding not to enroll for two or more consecutive semesters; or 
      • Were admitted to a public institution of higher education as a first-time student for the 2019- 2020 or 2020-2021 academic year but did not enroll at any institution for the 2020-2021 academic year. 
    • The bill was passed and signed by the governor. Find more information here: https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/hb21-1330 and https://cdhe.colorado.gov/higher-education-student-success-legislation-hb21-1330-authorizes-federal-american-rescue-plan